This story was written for a short story prompt called "Stained Glass". Unfortunately, the competition closed before I was able to get it submitted, meaning this is the first time I've ever shared the story. I would enjoy any feedback on whether it is any good.
Hope you are all enjoying these last weeks of Summer!
The Stained Glass
by James J Meadows III
Lady Andrea ran her fingers along the smooth red stained glass window. The dark crimson tint discolored the sunlight streaming through it, giving an eerie feeling to the room. Further, a strange energy radiated from the glass, tickling her fingers as they brushed across it. Yet, most disconcerting of all, were the images she beheld as she gazed into its surface.
“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” A voice asked from the doorway behind her. “Do you like it?”
Andrea spun around, raising the knife in her hand and pointing it at a tall man, whose robed figure formed an intimidating silhouette against the entryway.
“Stay away from me,” she shouted, backing along the wall away from him.
“There is no need to react like that,” he replied, in a casual manner. “I mean you no harm.”
He entered the room, striding toward her without the slightest trace of fear. Andrea continued backing away, trying to keep as much space between them as possible. The knife, which she really didn’t know how to use anyway, shook violently in her sweaty hand, probably not helping her attempt to keep him at bay.
“Keep back,” she warned. “I don’t know what you’re doing but I won’t be a part of it!”
“Of course you know what I’m doing,” he replied. “You asked me to do it, didn’t you? You all did!”
“You were supposed to protect us!” she cried. “We came here for protection.”
“Yes. You wanted to escape the plague ravaging the kingdom. And so you are. I provided you a safe haven, a place where no plague can touch you, a place where you can stay safe until the plague is past.”
“Where are my friends?” She said. “What have you done with them?”
“Some are in the blue room; others are in the green room; some are in the purple room; still others are in other rooms. Some of them are in red rooms, just like you!”
He continued advancing toward her at a casual pace as he talked. She, in turned, kept backing away, sliding along the wall. The odd-asymmetric shape of the room with its various angles made it hard to avoid getting cornered. Fortunately, her antagonist appeared to be making no attempt to actually corner her. He was merely following her, walking along the wall, tracing her own steps as she moved.
“What have you done to them?” she demanded.
“I protected them.”
“Liar! I saw the faces in the glass! I saw them shouting at me from the panes, screaming and pounding to get out. You trapped them inside the windows!”
“What could be a better way to protect them? As long as they are in there, they are safe. No plague can reach them. No infection touch them. They can live forever, free from the nightmares taking place outside.”
“You’re a monster!” she screamed.
“I’m a protector,” he argued. “What more could nobility want from their prince than for him to look after them, protect them, and ensure their safety. That is what you asked for and that is what I’ve done.”
Andrea’s eyes darted around the room. The door was still standing open. If she could keep him talking, keep him following her, she might be able to get close enough to make a break for it. Her eyes returned back to him, gazing into the cold void of his icy green orbs, which looked back without the slightest trace of emotion.
“There is no need for you to be afraid,” he continued. “Once a cure is found for the plague, I will let you out. Then you will be free again, and no longer have any reason to fear for your safety.”
“What if a cure is never found?” she replied. “What if it takes centuries for the cure to be found? What if you die before the disease is cured?”
“Then you’ll just have to wait,” he answered. “I’m sure a cure will be found someday. Besides, if I pass away, surely someone will find a way to release you. It’s not like something will happen to you. You won’t age. You won’t hunger or thirst. You will be able to wait here however long it takes.”
His face grew hard and a cruel smile covered his lips.
“Besides, I’m sure all the peasant laborers, slaves, and citizens, who you left to die, abandoned inside their castles and cities, without the least concern for their welfare as you fled here, intent upon saving yourselves, will come looking for you, right?”
Andrea’s eyes went wide at the accusation masked in his words.
“They are just peasants,” she said. “You can’t punish us for abandoning them. We are their nobles; they swore to serve us and look after our welfare. We couldn’t protect them anyway. All we could do was protect ourselves, so that is what we did.”
“Yes, that is what you did,” he replied. “You took their food, their money, and all the wealth of your castles, which they might have been able to use, and raced here, begging me to shelter you while they all died, helpless against the ravages of a disease that you were more concerned with protecting yourselves from than trying to help the very people whose hard labor produced the gold and food you ran off with!”
“A nation needs it nobility,” she argued. “The people needed us alive and well. By protecting ourselves and the kingdom’s leaders, we are protecting their best interests!”
Andrea was only a short distance from the door now. She just needed keep him talking a little longer.
“Well, then, so am I,” he said. “I am protecting their leaders too. Whenever the people need them and ask for them, they can have them back! Until then, you and are your friends can enjoy the safety you wanted so badly!”
“No,” she screamed. “I won’t let you trap me!”
She turned and made a mad dash toward the door. She reached the entryway, racing at full speed and dove toward it. With a thickening crash, she slammed into the opening, as though it were solid rock. She pressed her hands against the smooth transparent surface, pushing with all her might.
“You don’t understand,” the man said. “You already have. I hope you like the red pane. You are going to be seeing it for a long time.”
He advanced toward her and past her, moving through the opening as if it were empty air; though, try as she might and pound upon it as she would, Andrea could not make so much as a dent in the transparent prison!
“Help!” She screamed. “Please, let me out! Please! I beg you! Please!”
Her shouts followed him, as he walked the wide black hallway separating the various brightly colored rooms, each casting their glows throughout the area, as the sun passed through them.